Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack Holds Town Hall In Weaverville

POSTED: 11:55 PM Dec 10 2012   UPDATED: 1:36 AM Dec 11 2012
Ag. Secretary Tom Vilsack Holds Town Hall In Weaverville
WEAVERVILLE, Calif. -

Hundreds packed into the Veterans Memorial Hall Monday night to listen to the United States Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack. 

It was Vilsack's longtime friend, Walter Robb, that asked the Secretary to visit Trinity County several years ago.

Robb, who founded Mountain Market in Weaverville back in 1977, is the co-CEO of Whole Foods Market.

Vilsack, who holds a seat in President Barack Obama's Cabinet, is campaigning the country to get a new Farm Bill passed, as well as highlight the lost clout that rural communities have in the nation's Capitol.

Hundreds listened to the former Governor of Iowa before he took questions from the audience for a little more than one hour. 

Topics during the meeting included the building of more horse trails, creating jobs, a heated exchange involving genetically modified foods, water distribution, and fire protection to name a few.

Jessie Cox of Lewiston is the Chair of the Fire Safety Council in Trinity County. 

When we asked Cox what he would ask Vilsack, if given the chance, he told us that the U.S. Forest Service is focusing their efforts on fire suppression as opposed to Fire Prevention. Cox said it costs more money and jobs saying, "If you wanna help the local economy the best way to do that would be to prevent, to hire local people to work to do the prevention part to get the threat reduced by clearing out some of this brush and trees."

When we took the concerns to Vilsack, he acknowledged the Federal Government needs to do a better job of developing relationships with local folks, and said his department will do what they can to help create more jobs. But Vilsack said Cox's assumption was not correct saying, "I don't think it's quite correct to suggest that our focus is on suppression solely. It's on a combination of prevention and suppression, because we gotta fight the fires that start and we're trying to figure out ways in which we can create new opportunities."

Many folks we spoke with said they were happy that such a high ranking Washington official visited their small town.